Heineken and National Geographic produced a mini-documentary called Wild Lager that tells the story of a recently-discovered wild yeast and how it came to be used in beer.
The three-minute documentary features biologist Diego Libkind, who discovered H41 yeast. Together with Heineken’s global master brewer, Willem van Waesberghe, Libkind retraces his steps in Patagonia, sharing the discovery and discussing what it means for beer drinkers.
Wild Lager was filmed in partnership with National Geographic (NatGeo) and is hosted on the magazine’s website as sponsored content. An accompanying article details the discovery of H41 in 2010 when Libkind was collecting wild yeasts in the woods. His scientific discovery, hidden inside an edible fungus called Cyttaria, turned out to be a significant one for the beer industry.
H41 is now being used in Heineken’s Limited Edition Wild Lager Series, available only in New York City. In addition to the branded documentary, a campaign for the Wild Lager Series beer includes social, digital and edited versions of the National Geographic article, tailored to each platform and target audience.
Heineken’s digital initiative is part of the brand’s shift from TV advertising to Google and Facebook. Wild Lager follows a trend of brands—particularly those selling alcohol—to focus on more complex storytelling in 2018. These branded films often attract A-list talent, as well.
A 2016 joint study by OneSpot and Marketing Insider Group found that 40 percent of consumers say branded content is at its best when it educates or informs them. While Heineken’s documentary was designed to educate (and inspire consumers to try its new beer), other alcohol-branded content this year tries to evoke emotions.
Hennessy, for example, enlisted the help of director Ridley Scott to create a visual “Odyssey” about the cognac’s taste notes. Earlier this year, Italian aperitif brand Campari released a short film called The Legend of Red Hand starring Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Adriano Giannini (Ocean’s Twelve). La Vida Nuestra, starring Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) is a branded film by Estrella Damm that shares a man’s story of letting go of the past.
Famous for its print magazines, National Geographic hasn’t shied away from a digital strategy. In December 2017, it was the most-followed brand on Instagram and creates different versions of content depending on who will be viewing it. Advertising is now sold for print, digital or a combination of both, and National Geographics‘s partnership with Heineken illustrates one strategy of telling stories alongside brands.
Beer is a popular advertising partner for the publisher. Coors partnered with NatGeo for a series called “My Next,” following two explorers as they make their way across the Costa Rican rainforest and inside an Iceland volcano.